Feature Writer Steve Famiglietti – A Personal Journey Through the iPhone 4S

As many of you know, last week, I bought the iPhone 4S for myself. Since that time, it has been an incredible journey through technology that I’d like to share with you.

Initially, I bought the Bluetooth keyboard to use with the phone because I was afraid to learn to use the phone’s on-screen keyboard. This keyboard is the size of a regular desktop computer’s keyboard, but it is missing the number pad. Therefore, it doesn’t lend itself to compact use and is sort of like not even using a small device at all.

The second day, I decided to tackle the phone’s built-in keyboard, which works quite well. When the phone’s screen reader, voice over, announces a letter to you, you then double tap the letter to make it appear on the screen. When the letter is announced to you after double tapping it, the voice used is slightly different, letting you know that the letter has appeared for you. After plunking my way around the keyboard for a while, I discovered that there is a little microphone, located to the left of the space bar. When I ran my finger across this key, voice over said, “dictate.” Wow, that meant, if I double tapped that key, the phone would record what I said to it. Very cool! After dictating a sentence, I double tapped the button again and my text appeared on the screen. This was a nice feature, because I didn’t have to use the keyboard for things like texting.

The other great feature of this phone is Siri. Siri is a voice-activated feature that allows you to tell the phone to perform a task for you. Siri can send texts, place calls, check the weather, look up restaurants, and more. You can say something like, “Text Steve,” and she will say, “Ok, I can send a text to Steve for you, what would you like it to say?” Then, you dictate the text, double tap and say “send.” It is that simple. The one thing that Siri can’t do at this point is add a contact to your contacts list.

So, with all of this, by using my voice and a few double taps, the phone is doing everything I want it to do, and I don’t have to use a different, specially-made device from what the sighted population is using.

Here is a brief list of tasks I’ve done while using Voice Over and Siri: Sending text messages, adding family and friends to my contacts list, calling family and friends, playing my music with iTunes, checking the weather, checking voice mail, configuring the phone to my liking, and downloading the Weather Bug App.

This week, I plan to download more Apps, like the LookTel Money Reader and the Zoom Reader. I am going to look up lists of Apps for low vision and blind users and see for myself how useable and accessible these Apps are for us. Stay tuned!


  1. You can also use the rotor to set the keyboard so that with VoiceOver you touch the letter you want, VO speaks it, then you simply lift to select that letter. It’s much faster than the double-tap method of typing.

  2. Hi Steve. I just wanted to offer my own tips on using accessible apps. While finding recommendations for them is a good idea, you also can’t be afraid to try things on your own. I’d especially try this with as many free apps as you can. The more you try, the more confident you’ll be on what works for you, and what you might need to write the developer. Just like with windows and screen readers, not everything is totally 100 percent acessible. But even if it isn’t it’s a good way to really try and make things work. good luck witht he fourS I hope to get it soon,

  3. When I first purchased my iPhone back in Jan of this year, all I did was use it as a phone and play with Seri. Now, as time goes on, I have slowly ventured in to the apps, browsing the web etc. It seems a bit challenging at first, but, over a short period of time, it definitely grows on you. Now, I am already at a point where I wouldn’t want to be without it.